October 12th, 2009


Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) comes back from the grave to murder the Final Elm Street kids.  To expand his horizons, Freddy gets Alice (Lisa Wilcox) to pull other people into her dreams so he can make mincemeat out of them.  Since Alice is a daydreamer, she can more or less control her actions in the Dream World.  She also absorbs her dead friends’ powers too so by the time she goes toe to toe with Freddy, she is able to whoop his ass.


I like this entry more than most people, probably because I have fond memories of watching it as a kid.  This was the first Nightmare I saw in the theater and I loved it.  I even had the poster on my wall for years.  Watching it again for the first time in a long while, it didn’t quite hold up as well as I remembered it.  The nightmare sequences, death scenes, and special effects are pretty spectacular though and because of that, it comes highly recommended.


Part 3 made it a point to kill off all the returning characters from Part 1.  Part 4 likewise kills off the characters from Part 3 before handing the reigns over to Alice.  Wilcox delivers one of the best performances by a Final Girl in the entire series, so I didn’t mind so much.  She’s a heck of a lot better than the hilariously named Tuesday Knight (Patricia Arquette’s replacement), I’ll tell you that. 


The movie really belongs to Robert Englund though.  You know right away that Freddy will be the star of the show because Englund gets his name above the credits this time out.  By now, Freddy had become a household name so Englund really sinks his teeth into the role and goes all out.  He gets some really dumb one-liners in this one (“Wanna suck face?”) but he also gets his fair share of WTF dialogue.  Like the part where he tells Alice, “I am… eternal!”  Umm… Okay, Freddy whatever you say pal. 


Can you imagine using this line in the real world?  Like going into a job interview, for instance.  If the boss asks you why he should hire you and you say, “Well… I am… eternal”, nine times out of ten, he probably won’t give you the job.


Lame dialogue aside, the nightmare sequences are well done and have a lot of visual pizzazz.  Director Renny (Die Hard 2:  Die Harder) Harlin films everything in bright, flashy colors and provides some memorable set pieces.  I think my favorite was when Hope Marie Carlton appeared naked inside a water bed.  (“How’s this for a wet dream!”)  There’s a cool dream where the world becomes one big junkyard, a dumb (but a good kind of dumb) scene where Freddy’s glove rises out of the water like a shark fin, and a kickass Kung Fu dream.  The grossout highlight is when a bodybuilder chick slowly and painfully morphs into a giant roach.  (“You can check in, but you can’t check out!”)  That shit really fucked with my ten year old mind the first time I saw it. 


The Dream Master’s premise (I hesitate to use the word “plot”) is more than a bit muddled.  Alice’s powers are kinda cheesy and Harlin clumsily handles a lot of her exposition scenes.  That’s OK.  This movie could still suck ass and I’d love it just because it has the nuttiest resurrection-of-a-deceased-killer scene in film history.  Freddy comes back to life in this one when a dog pisses FIRE on his skeleton.  How much acid do you have to take before you come up with THAT scenario? 


Screenwriter:  “Hey, Mr. Harlin, I’m kinda stuck on finding a way to bring Freddy back.  Perhaps if there was a Satanic ritual or a voodoo ceremony or…”


Renny Harlin:  “I have three words for you.  Flaming.  Canine.  Urine.”


Screenwriter:  “Of course!  Why didn’t I think of that!”


It’s a Renny Harlin movie folks.  Stuff like fiery animal piss bringing the dead back to life just happens.  Of course we didn’t know who Harlin was back when the film came out so we had no frame of reference.  This is the guy who made a movie about super smart sharks here; so the logic of The Dream Master is pretty consistent with Harlin’s brand of cinematic wackiness.


And how’s this for not making one bit of sense:  Freddy gets killed when he looks into a mirror.  (Oops… Spoiler.)  Mirrors kill him.  Flaming puppy pee resurrects him.  Go figure.  You’d think if fiery dog piss brings him back to life then frozen cat turds would be his mortal enemy.  Guess not.


I’ll take that little lapse in logic because Freddy’s death scene is awesome.  Since he is comprised of the souls of the children he murdered, they all rip their way out of his body.  (One kid’s hand even comes out of Freddy’s butt.)  What makes this scene even cooler is that the chick who shows off her boobs while coming out of Freddy’s torso is none other than Linnea Quigley.


A Nightmare on Elm Street 4:  The Dream Master is short on sense but long on fun.  If you think about it though, most dreams don’t make a whole lot of sense either so it’s all good.  Let me put it to you this way; name me another movie that effectively combines Kung Fu, Kafkaesque transformations, and dogs pissing fire and I’ll give it *** ½ too.


Englund and Wilcox returned for Part 5:  The Dream Child the next year.


<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie:  A Nightmare on Elm Street 5:  The Dream Child>